Today I am sharing a reflection by Mike Gray from a recent deacon training weekend. Mike is a deacon candidate at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Elizabethton, TN.
Brother, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
My friends, we need to be holy and pleasing to God. In the reading, St. Paul writes to Roman citizens, Gentiles and pagans converting to Christianity, on the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
How did the Romans live? What were their values? What were their morals? As I reflected on how the Romans lived, besides technology, their culture was like ours in the USA, overwhelmed by the pleasure principle and worldly trinity of Me, Myself, and I. Language and communication have changed, but we too are too busy to see past ourselves, focusing on self-interest and division instead of charity and the dignity of the human race. Being holy and pleasing to God is perfect! God’s ways are not our ways, but God gives us tastes of perfection. Living a life of Christ, we might not be perfect but when we try to live an authentic life of Christ we can be made perfect through God. We need to see God in little things, always looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary. We are sinners, but God allows us perfect moments; perfect moments and possibly a foretaste of heaven. In moments that are holy and pleasing to God, we get a taste of heaven. At Mass in Holy Communion we get a taste of heaven.
After meeting Renee and realizing this woman is exceptional, a gift from God, I chose to live better and love as a better man. That beautiful time can only be recognized as a taste of heaven. This isn’t heaven, but it’s a special time to look back upon and to look forward to, recognizing that I’ve changed for the better and God allows moments of perfect human love. While raising our children, we taught them, corrected them, loved them whether they were good or bad, like God does for humanity. Looking back, the teaching, disciplining, and loving was rewarded so many times with perfect moments. In some cases, only on reflection can I see some moments as perfect that I overlooked. Our children learned and loved in return, and not only us, but others, as well. They loved by simply asking if they could help someone in need, by loving and spending time with their grandparents who were in hospice care in our home, keeping them from sports, play dates, afterschool activities, and so on. Four kids under ten, giving up things they wanted, showing respect and loving other people first. Praying, going to Mass, receiving sacraments, and loving God together as a family are perfect human moments to look back upon.
The Catechism teaches that Baptism removes sin and initiates growth in holiness. The effort to love God through prayer, self-denial, and deeds of charity result in an increase of sanctifying grace bestowed in Baptism. ALL the baptized are called to a life of holiness, living virtuously, avoiding impurity of mind and actions, plus practicing moderation in food and drink. The moral life is a form of spiritual worship.
Today we celebrate St. Isidore the Farmer. As you may recall, Deacon Tim told me to practice my preaching to my animals. What do you know! The Holy Spirit listened and introduced St. Isidore the Farmer to me. He and his wife are both saints. Saints exemplify holy and pleasing to God. St. Isidore was known for acts of charity, to love God and love neighbor as himself. He feared sin and possessed an ardor for every virtue, especially for prayer. St. Isidore and his wife knew simplicity, piety, and sincere humility, inviting the Holy Spirit into their souls. St. Isidore thought of work as a reparation for sin, and a remedy against it, bringing him closer to God. He directed his attention to holy motives of faith and made his work a perfect act of faith. He considered such as a duty to God. Saints desired heaven and worked toward heaven.
As we go about our day, weekend, and summer, let’s strive to grow in holiness and pleasing God, remembering that we are united, one body of Christ. Our goal is heaven!
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.